MMR Blog

Sandy on Assignment: London’s Concours of Elegance…

Posted on November 19, 2014 Comments (1)

A weekend with a Prince!

Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

A legendary show car, the 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Touring -- Flying Star -- takes Best in Show with the Pullman Trophy.

A legendary show car, the 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Touring ‘Flying Star’ takes Best in Show with the Pullman Trophy.

To walk among sixty of the world’s rarest historic cars, exclusively invited to participate in London’s Concours of Elegance was magnificent. To be in the presence of a Prince while doing so was extraordinary!

I was planning a trip to Germany; right about the time RM’s London auction was to take place. Without a moment’s hesitation, I adjusted my plans for a two-day stop over in London and a chance to attend RM’s eighth annual London auction. It was a great opportunity to watch my favorite auctioneer and RM’s European Managing Director, Max Girardo. Just as exciting, was discovering a new motorsports gem… London’s Concours of Elegance.

This legendary 1922 Sunbeam Tourist Trophy Grand Prix Car remains one of the finest Sunbeam racing cars ever built.

This legendary 1922 Sunbeam Tourist Trophy Grand Prix Car remains one of the finest Sunbeam racing cars ever built.

Now in its third year, the UK’s budding international concours, uniquely held at a different Royal Palace each year, is definitely making its mark… not only among the motorsports elite, but with the public, as well. Held the first weekend of September, this event is the ultimate motorsports English garden party.

Hampton Court gardens are breathtaking.

Hampton Court gardens are breathtaking.

On Sunday, I attended the gardens of one of London’s spectacular palaces, Hampton Court, home to not only the sixty concours cars but cars from many UK car clubs and specialty car tours, as well as something unique… the “Talking Concours”, a staged area featuring interviews with greats from the car world.

The inaugural event of the Concours took place in 2012 within the private grounds of Windsor Castle to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s diamond jubilee of reign. The second Concours of Elegance was held at the Royal Palace of St. James, last year.

Henry the VIII’s favorite royal playground was Hampton Court.

Henry the VIII’s favorite royal playground was Hampton Court.

Although Hampton Court Palace has not been home to the British Royal Family since the 18th century, its grandeur stands out among world Royal Palaces. It is best remembered as Henry the VIII’s favorite royal residence. Nearly 200 years later, William III and Mary II embarked on a massive expansion of the Palace, which included the grounds enjoyed during this year’s Concours.

The 1938 Talbot-Lago T150C-SS Figoni et Falaschi Coupe received The Autoglym Elegant Design Award

The 1938 Talbot-Lago T150C-SS Figoni et Falaschi Coupe received The Autoglym Elegant Design Award

The William & Son Award for the Most Elegant British Motor Car went to this 1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Freestone and Webb Coupe

The William & Son Award for the Most Elegant British Motor Car went to this 1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Freestone & Webb Coupe

This 1934 Triumph Dolomite 8C SS Corsica Roadster received The Royal Automobile Club Spirit of Motoring Award

This 1934 Triumph Dolomite 8C SS Corsica Roadster received The Royal Automobile Club Spirit of Motoring Award

Much like Villa d’Este, the Concours of Elegance differs from traditional concours where a ‘winning’ car is selected by a panel of judges. The Concours of Elegance organizers maintain that if a car has been invited to participate in the Concours, it is already a winner. On Saturday, each of the sixty Concours participants casts their vote for the vehicle they consider the most elegant, thus Best of Show. During an exclusive dinner Saturday evening in King Henry VIII’s Great Dining Hall at Hampton Court Palace, Concours Patron HRH Prince Michael of Kent presented this year’s Best of Show to the 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Touring ‘Flying Star’ with the Pullman Trophy.

A legendary show car, the 1931 Alfa Romeo made its concours debut in 1931 at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, where, accompanied by the model Josette Pozzo, it won the Coppa d’Oro di Villa d’Este trophy. It has been winning accolades and trophies ever since.

This 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza is one of the most desirable pre-war racing cars in existence.

This 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza is one of the most desirable pre-war racing cars in existence.

A vision for the future, this 1970 Lancia Stratos Zero Bertone Concept Car received RM Auction’s Award for the Most Innovative Car of its Era.

A vision for the future, this 1970 Lancia Stratos Zero Bertone Concept Car received RM Auction’s Award for the Most Innovative Car of its Era.

Spectators to the Concours of Elegance, reached well over 10,000 this year. Voting for a first time award… the Public Choice winner was awarded to a rare alloy-bodied 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing Coupe, number 19 of only 29 alloy Gullwings built.

First owned by Italian gentleman racer Dottore Alberico Cacciari, this car was the only alloy-bodied 300 SL to compete in the 1956 and 1957 Mille Miglias, with Cacciari driving. The car appeared at Hampton Court, just as it raced in 1956, with its 452 racing numbers, and original tool kit and factory-fitted luggage.

This rare 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Alloy Gullwing Coupe received both the ‘Public Choice’ award and AGI Private Clients Award for the Most Historically Significant Car

This rare 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Alloy Gullwing Coupe received both the ‘Public Choice’ award and AGI Private Clients Award for the Most Historically Significant Car

So there I was, wandering among the beautiful cars and beautiful gardens in awe of the Palace when the Patron of the Concours of Elegance drove by. His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent accompanied by his lovely wife, the Princess, was admiring the cars and speaking with owners and vendors throughout the day.

HRH Prince Michael of Kent, Patron of the Concours of Elegance and his Princess were highly accessible to attendees throughout the weekend.

HRH Prince Michael of Kent, Patron of the Concours of Elegance and his Princess were highly accessible to attendees throughout the weekend.

So which palace is up next for this prestigious concours? With the gracious permission of Her Majesty The Queen, the 2015 Concours of Elegance will be held at the Royal Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland, The Queen’s official residence in Scotland.

Moved last year to coincide with the Concours of Elegance, RM Auctions concluded its European auction calendar on Monday, with its London auction at Battersea Evolution. While pouring over one of the Jaguars during the preview just prior to the start of the auction, I started talking with a gentleman and his son. You just never know who you’ll meet at a RM auction! To my astonishment, he introduced himself as the previous owner of the Ecurie Ecosse transporter, which I had seen a year ago at the Goodwood Revival and this year at the Mille Miglia. To know me, is to know I adore transporters. I was tickled!

Sitting pretty among the sparkling lights, the 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione ‘Tour de France’ took the highest hammer price of the night.

Sitting pretty among the sparkling lights, the 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione ‘Tour de France’ took the highest hammer price of the night.

Sitting in the second row, right in front of Max was definitely the highlight of the weekend! The crowd was very international with 35 countries represented in the room. We watched as the hammer went down on the final bid of $8,119,188 for the 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione ‘Tour de France’ and $3,266,340 for the rare 1966 Ferrari GTB Alloy, and $1,959,804 for the highly original 1964 Shelby 289 Competition Cobra. We were in awe watching the sales sore to $36,348,733 US dollars. Another whirlwind motorsports weekend was over… as the final hammer went down.


Exciting Times

Posted on October 15, 2014 Comments (2)

Alain de Cadenet

By Alain de Cadenet


The Bubble has not burst. Far from it; in fact, every report I see enhances the onwards and upwards market trend. For years, the auction houses have led the exhilarating charge to produce fresh values that range from the expected to the outrageous. The only bargains now seem to be cheaper cars needing work that buyers can do themselves; thereby making serious saving.

Mercedes

When Bonhams sold the exquisitely engineered 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196, it provided a boost for important GP machines ranging from pre-WW2 Alfa-Romeos, Talbot-Lagos, and Maseratis to 1960s and 70s F1 kit. Record prices appear to pervade confidence to similar genres of cars and that must surely be mirroring the commodity market? Either way, the auction houses have ramped up their businesses as demand increases and specialist publications have become invaluable to buyers in determining how prices have panned out as well as offering opinions, suggestions, and an insight into just how much knowledge is needed to bid assuredly.

Goodwood Festival of Speed

Such is the influence of auction prices that the biggest groans come from dealers who have difficulty obtaining stock. Owners are reluctant to dispose of something just in case it goes up dramatically in price. Who can blame them? Personally, on the premise that he wouldn’t risk his own capital on a dicey machine, I have always thought that a vehicle that was actually owned by a reputable dealer was a better bet than something that was merely on sale or return. Good logic? Depends on the dealer.

About 45 years ago I was chatting with an acquaintance who’d worked out that the sum total of really special, worthwhile vintage, veteran, and classic cars was only something around 3,000. That’s counting just the best of everything and what went into the mix is pure conjecture. Just think about that, though perhaps there aren’t that many totally delicious cars to be had. Remove cars held in trusts, museums, and the like and, even though there is more machinery to be considered from 1969, there will never be enough good stuff to go around.

Ferrari F1 Goodwood

With cheap money abounding, surely you should buy whatever you can get your hands on because this hobby/sport/market is not going to go away in the foreseeable future. By doing so you not only satisfy your cravings, but also provide ample fodder to set up a regime to help keep yourself sane in today’s ever changing world.

After all, old vehicles keep you busy. Research, study, and investigation all lead to what the quintessence of this celebration of artifacts is all about. They stop you playing Sudoku and Candy Crush and teach you about chassis manufacture, castings, machining, brakes, gearboxes, camshafts, bodywork, wheels, tyres, race history, vin numbers, registration numbers, and whatever else it takes to be an expert in your field.

Goodwood Festival of Speed

What’s on offer is wonderful therapy. It is the way knowledge is gained and one of the reasons why demand is so high. Next time you go anywhere the cognoscenti are gathering (Goodwood, for example), just ask them how much fun they are having and you’ll know why prices are on the up.

You’ll notice I have talked only about prices. A price is someone else’s idea of what something is worth and value is a different thing altogether. It is derived from your own feel for the item based on experience, knowledge, and discipline. Your dad’s old car will be more valuable to you than anyone else. So will the car that you always wanted but couldn't afford. Likewise, if you don’t want to wait for years for your favorite to be restored, the ready-to-go 100 pointer may be more valuable to you.

Either way, whatever is going on out there is fueling exciting times in every way in the old vehicle world. That’s why there is no need to worry.


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on August 22, 2014 Comments (2)

In the opinion of some, there may be a better concours than Pebble Beach, and there may be a better racetrack for vintage racing than Laguna Seca. There may be a better celebration of Italian cars than Concorso Italiano and there may even be a better street show and setting than Ocean Drive in Carmel, but all believe there is nowhere else in the car world where they all come together as well as at Monterey Week.

This week we have a wonderful American car story by Denise McCluggage, who judged at Pebble Beach last weekend, and an image (below) from Michael Furman of a 1922 Bugatti T23 Brescia 1361.

Image from Michael Furman of a 1922 Bugatti T23 Brescia 1361

We hope Porsche fans took advantage of the individually signed Porsche poster we offered in last week’s MMR Newsletter. There are very few left and the offer goes out next week to the 12,000 subscribers of Sports Car Market.

Racing

F1 returns this weekend for the Spa-Belgium GP, one of the best on the F1 Calendar. While little testing is done during this period, look for the teams to be much closer in speed at Spa.

The Milwaukee Mile:

Will Power for Team Penske

Before sports car road racing came to places like Pebble Beach and Watkins Glen, there was already a rich history of oval track racing on wooden boards and dirt flat tracks. Founded in 1903, the famous mile was paved in 1954. Front engine roadsters with skinny tires put on a far different show than the modern Indy cars with high down force and fat tires. There really was only one line around here and Will Power took pole and that line to lead most of the race. That single lane limited the passing opportunities and, though a good race, it was not judged to be an exciting one. On camera, the grandstand appeared sparsely populated but organizers announced that attendance was 30K, 2K more than last year.

IndyCar has two races with 200 points left to hand out to the winners; Will Power of Team Penske has a 39 point lead over teammate Helio Castroneves. Stay tuned to your sets for the next two weeks as the battle continues. (Check our MMR Calendar for details.)

Concours

Monterey: Lamborghini wins!

This has been a huge year for Lamborghini in America. Continuing their tradition of unpronounceable model names the Huracan (hoor-a-can) made its North American debut at Amelia and was an instant hit. Two months later Bonhams sold a vintage Countach (Kun ta) for over a million dollars at Greenwich. Gooding sold one for almost $2M and a 400GT for almost $900K. Plus another Lamborghini 400GT won best of Show at the Concorso Italiano. Word on the street is that a Huracan sold today will be delivered in 12 months. Lamborghini is doing well.

Over the next few weeks we will share stories and images of our Monterey adventure.

Pebble Beach

Ferrari wins!

John Shirley’s 1954 Scaglietti bodied 375 Ferrari Coupe won the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and became the first post war car to win Pebble Beach since 1968.

Maserati was the featured marque but John Shirley’s 1954 Scaglietti bodied 375 Ferrari Coupe won the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and became the first post war car to win Pebble Beach since 1968. It was commissioned by Italian film director Roberto Rossellini and was Scaglietti’s first for Ferrari. The car is a fitting winner as no other car on the field matched it for the combination of style and story. At the time Roberto Rossellini owned it, he was married and involved in a notorious affair with actress Ingrid Bergman. Legend has it that the two were driving along the Italian coast and stopped the car to walk on the beach. Upon their return they found a lovely fresh fish, wrapped in newspaper, had been left on the passenger seat with a note thanking them for leaving such beautiful car for them to view.

Twenty Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa’s made for a rather spectacular presentation. All but one had been restored.

Concorso Italiano

Nothing Succeeds Like Excess.

Amidst a sea of red 308-355-360-430-458 and other Ferraris, some rarer pearls do appear. This is a joyous show populated mostly by Ferrari Club of America member cars. The invited designer was Zagato and they displayed a gaggle of Zagato designed cars. The most sought after car of the weekend was the new Alfa 4C. While, like many others, we applaud, nay celebrate, Alfa’s return, we cannot say that we are impressed much by the Lotus derived styling. Here is an image of a Zagato TZ3 Stradale Alfa that really did impress.

Alfa

Also an Intermeccanica Italia with a 351 Ford engine that reminds us all of the glorious ISO-Bizzarini, Apollo, deTomaso era of Italian chassis-American engine cars are also appreciating.

Intermeccanica Italia

The winning car, deservedly, in the heart of Ferrari country, was a lovely Lamborghini 400GT.

Lamborghini 400GT

See you next week.

Peter Bourassa


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on August 8, 2014 Comments (0)

Monterey Draws Nigh

Monterey

This week’s eye candy is from Monterey’s Concorso Italiano in 2010. As I look back at them I am not certain I actually took these pictures. One clue is that I appear in one of them. If these images look familiar to you, dear reader, please drop me a note and we will happily give you full credit anon. 

An 11-minute Alfa video feast from Pebble Beach Concourse (turn the sound way up), was shot by Bill Leatherman for MMR in 2010. They are Grand! And the final minute is worth the wait.

Michael Furman Photography - Porsche 356 dashboard

Michael Furman’s image this week is of a Porsche 356 dashboard.

The Weekly Leek: European Correspondent Oofy Prosser Reveals Stunning News from Ferrari’s Past!

Evans Coolant

Evans Coolant

Last week’s Goods & Services directory link to Evans Coolant drew an interesting response from MMR Newsletter reader John Gallagher and it is reprinted in part here. Your thoughts on this topic, particularly if you have specific knowledge or experience with the subject, are welcomed.

Strategy, the Intellectual Aspect of Racing

It is generally recognized that while most top race drivers, with some notable exceptions, are equally gifted regarding the physical parts of driving, not all are good strategists and few, if any, are when beginning their careers. The concept of saving fuel or tires or, the engine itself, is not natural to people who simply want to go fast. In my sports car racing days when races were 20 laps, at most, my sponsor’s strategy was simple. “Go fast” he would say, but quite intensely, and that seemed uncomplicated and plenty good enough direction for me. It also occurred to me that as a strategy, it was probably universal among my competitors and not likely to provide me much of an edge.

Scott Dixon

Last Sunday’s IndyCar race at Mid-Ohio was a race determined by strategy. Last place starter Scott Dixon was the first finisher. And that happened for three reasons: one, he had a fast car; two, he is a very good driver who knows better than most how to go fast and save fuel; and three, someone in the pits put the first two together and figured out a fueling strategy that allowed him to continue on the track while others were refueling and then stretch what little fuel he had to the end. Actually, the end plus 300 yards, which is as far as he got before running out of fuel. This was a great race on a beautiful road (not street) course, with people sitting on the grass of the hills overlooking the circuit. Perfect. The competition was good and the race entertaining.

But the winning was the result of racecraft, something we referred to last week in relation to F1. There was a time when racecraft in IndyCar appeared to be owned only by the Penske squad. That stemmed from Roger’s early racing years when his interpretation of rules often gave his cars, particularly in Trans-Am, an unfair advantage. Truth is that his real advantage was his ability to interpret the rules, prepare meticulously, demand excellence from all around him, including suppliers, and seemingly always have top drivers who followed orders. Plus the simple fact that he was and is basically smarter and more experienced than most of his competitors.

Chip Ganassi Team Racing

That sounds like a simple strategy but many of Penske’s competitors didn’t or couldn’t employ it and he won. Not that he wouldn’t take advantage of the rules if he could, but in today’s spec engines and chassis racing series, there are fewer opportunities. He doesn’t go through the we learned a lot today stuff. He learned it a long time ago and prepared for it yesterday. 

Michael Andretti

Chip Ganassi and Michael Andretti have learned how to be the same way and the Penske advantage has been somewhat neutered.

The sports cars from the Tudor United series are at Road America this weekend. Locally, the BMW people take over the lawn at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline.

Peter Bourassa

Monterey Field

Monterey

Monterey

Monterey

Monterey


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on May 9, 2014 Comments (0)

Tweaking Makes the Difference

Anyone who switched on the Tudor Sports Car Racing Series mid race last weekend must have thought they were in a time warp. Tremendous racing! The race was at Laguna Seca which is a great track with all kinds of turn radii and elevation changes, and a perpetually slippery surface. Perfect. The biggest difficultly in putting the two series together was insuring that there would be competitive racing for each class in both series. The most difficult to satisfy would be the Prototypes. The American Le Mans and Daytona Prototypes are simply very different beasts. The first races were not real road race courses. Daytona with its huge banking and Mickey Mouse infield section, Sebring, the forlorn airfield that has for decades seen historic races but little resurfacing, and Long Beach, one of the more interesting street circuits but none-the-less bumpy, have all favored the Daytona Prototypes and this was expected.

At the first real race course, the ALMS Prototypes came into their own. Thanks to minor rule tweaks and a format that split the field because the pit area couldn’t accommodate all the entrants, they made it a fight and eventually beat the DP cars to win. It worked! Huge sighs all around and great for them and great for American road racing!

The sports car racing was spectacular and it was fun watching Bill Auberlen drive through the pack in his BMW to catch, bump, and pass the factory Porsche to finish second behind the Corvette of Magnussen/Garcia. Want to catch up? Check out Mr. Energy Justin Bell’s pre-race program and year-to-date summary. Instructive and entertaining. 

Alfa Addendum

Last week we wrote (cynically) about how Fiat was setting Alfa Romeo up as a stand-alone company. We further assumed that the move was made to position the company to be sold. Yesterday Fiat announced that it will spend $7 Billion dollars to produce eight new models that will be designed and built in Italy and on the market in 2018. After years of feeling like Charlie Brown, we don’t want to believe that Sergio Marchionne and Fiat will pull the football away again. And once again we will live in hope. And wait. Again.

Toyota to Texas

Last week Toyota announced they would be moving their US headquarters to Texas from California. This week Denise McCluggage writes about pickup trucks in general and Toyota pickup trucks in particular and “Texas”. Enjoy.

Michael Furman News

Michael Furman's photograph of a 1927 Bugatti 35C and is from his book The Art of Bugatti – Mullin Automotive Museum

This week’s image is of a 1927 Bugatti 35C and is from his book The Art of BugattiMullin Automotive Museum. You can learn how he does his magic this Saturday. Michael is doing a photography demo at the Trenton-Mercer Airport in Trenton, NJ, from 9:30AM to 2:30PM. Learn more at the MMR Calendar.

F1 from Spain this weekend. Have a great one.

Peter Bourassa